Sunday, April 26, 2015

26th birthday

Friday, April 24 was my 26th birthday. 

I didn't want anything for my birthday, the key word being "thing," as I'm continually striving for minimalism and definitely don't need any things. I have more than enough already.

But, I did treat myself earlier in the week by stocking up on new stationery and stamps from the United States Postal Service, and some cards featuring Sally Bucey's photography.

I'd gone through much of my stationery and stamps during this month's #Write_On challenge (which I've already completed!), so this supply should last me a while.

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Thursday, April 23, 2015

Thankful Thursday 4/23/15: Smoky the neighbor's dog

Thankful Thursday is a weekly segment that began 1/10/13—read why here
I invite you to join me in practicing gratitude!

I am so thankful to have had the pleasure of hanging with this guy all week:

Smoky wags his tail whenever you talk to him, just bursting with puppy happiness.

I've only ever heard him bark like once.

He behaves so so well on walks—never does more than give them a look when he sees other dogs.

Since I work from home, we've been hanging out all day every day, and he's even slept up on my bed several nights.

So even though we had a huge drop in temperatures (including waking up one morning to snow on the roofs and lawns), this week has been awesome because of this little furry guy.
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Sunday, April 19, 2015

4th Annual Wisconsin Grilled Cheese Championship

Yesterday I went to the 4th Annual Wisconsin Grilled Cheese Championship in Dodgeville, WI to see my brother and a friend (Bill from the Fab Five) compete.

There's an amateur and professional division for the following categories: classic (bread, cheese, butter), classic + 1 (classic plus one ingredient), classic + extras (classic plus unlimited extra ingredients), and dessert (sweet not savory). There's also one "Young Chef" competition (ages 12-17), making a total of nine competitions during the day (11 a.m. to 4 p.m.).

All sandwich fillings must be at least 60% cheese, and of course, all cheese must come from Wisconsin. Competitors begin their 15-minute grilling time with a "Spatulas Up!" from emcee Kyle Cherek, host of PBS's "Wisconsin Foodie" TV show.

Assistant Linda and Chef Bill
Amateur - Classic + 1

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Saturday, April 18, 2015

Lessons learned walking the Camino de Santiago

Before walking the Camino de Santiago last fall, I certainly wasn't expecting a life-altering experience. (Psst, here are some photos if you're late to the party.)

But if you've seen "The Way," read "The Pilgrimage," or consumed any other Camino-based books/films, you'll probably be left believing that a life-changing experience is exactly what you'll get.

While an average day on the pilgrimage has been largely romanticized in my opinion, there are still definitely lessons you can take away from the experience that will change your life for the better.

I want to share the lessons I learned with you, because you can easily apply them to your own life for positive change. I wrote these lessons on Medium for a more beautiful, focused reading experience.

Here it is:

Hope you enjoy! I'd love to hear what you think over there (Medium lets you leave notes throughout the post, or write a response at the end).
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Thursday, April 9, 2015

Thankful Thursday 4/9/15: Write_On

Thankful Thursday is a weekly segment that began 1/10/13—read why here
I invite you to join me in practicing gratitude!

As mentioned in my LWC post, April is National Card and Letter Writing Month here in the USA. Last year, two stationery companies began a #write_on challenge, where you send 30 letters in 30 days during April.

The campaign has its own website now, by the way, in case you're looking for writing inspiration or reasons to write. Their 5,000 free starter kits (4 letterpress cards and gel pen) were already claimed before April 1 though, so you'll have to sign up early next year if you want some free goodies!

I participated last year, and am doing so again this year. Today I mailed out my 9th letter, and still have a good list of names I want to send something to as part of the campaign. The magical thing is that this list seems to keep growing. A new coworker, an acquaintance who saw my outgoing mail on twitter, old study abroad friends who recently gave me their mailing addresses. And I'm so thrilled!

A month ago, I would have told you that I don't have any friends in town, and that this fact was definitely a source of feeling not very great. But one thing this challenge has shown me already is: Look! You have all these people to write to! You have their mailing addresses because you're certainly not strangers. Be grateful that you have all of these amazing people in your life; they're still very much with you even though they're scattered all over the globe.

And how cool that we have a postal service that—at a very cheap price—will hand deliver a hand-written message to these folks in a matter of days, keeping our friendships alive and growing. How so very wonderful indeed!

So we're nine days in already, but it's not too late to have a personal 20 letters in 20 days challenge! And if that's overwhelming, perhaps because you don't usually send any snail mail, then try sending just one letter/card this month.

Write on!
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Sunday, April 5, 2015

Teach Abroad Blog Carnival: Which age group is best to teach?

This month I'm hosting the Reach To Teach Teach Abroad Blog Carnival, a monthly series that focuses on providing helpful tips and advice to ESL teachers around the globe. 

This month's topic is: Who is best to teach? Adults? Teens? Kindergarten? Which group do you love teaching and why?

Here are the responses from ESL teachers around the world:

Dean Barnes | Reach to Teach

Entry: The Best Age to Teach

Post Description: Teaching ESL abroad can bring you many different experiences, especially in the classroom. In general teaching is split into teaching with Adults (18+), kindergarten (0-6) or in between, generally around 6-17 years old. There are crossovers with the groups, some positions will have you teaching a mix, and what some countries consider kindergarten age will differ.

Author Bio: My name is Dean, I have been traveling for around four years now with a small stint back in my home country. I’m from the UK and I began my teaching career on the island of Bali. I then made the move to Taiwan where I currently reside. Here I have the joy to fulfill my passion for writing by providing ESL/travel-related articles for the Reach To Teach website.

Nathan Magyar | Korealizations

Post Description: Planning a career in ESL and wondering which age group is right for you? Consider the pros and cons presented in this article for teaching kindergartners, middle schoolers, high schoolers and adults!

Author Bio: Nathan is an American living and teaching English in Ulsan, South Korea. When he's not busy playing English games in the classroom, he also enjoys traveling, photography, cycling and updating his friends and family back home about his latest adventures via his blog, Korealizations!

Abigail Nedeau-Owen | Bodging for Apples II

Post Description: A short abstract on how age affects learning and teaching motivations.

Author Bio: Abigail prefers walking to motorized vehicles and likes the idea of slow travel, getting to know a place by building up a routine that absorbs the new culture. Her interests include illustration, editing (film & writing), reviews, boston terriers, artist books, and iPhonography.

Rebecca Thering | Rebe With a Clause

Entry: Why I Enjoyed Teaching Elementary Students in Korea

Post Description: I had never taught a full class of elementary students before I taught in Korea, but after a year of doing so, I'm so glad that's where I was placed. Here are nine reasons why I enjoyed teaching elementary-aged students in Korea.

Author Bio: Rebecca is a freelance writer and editor who has lived abroad teaching ESL in Spain and South Korea. Valuing education and things that aren't things, she inspires and helps others by writing about her experiences abroad, cultural insights and self-improvement pursuits at her blog, Rebe With a Clause.

If you’d like to contribute to next month’s Blog Carnival, please get in touch with Dean at, and he'll let you know how you can start participating!
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Saturday, April 4, 2015

[Teach Abroad Blog Carnival] Why I enjoyed teaching elementary students in Korea

Today’s article is written for the Reach To Teach Teach Abroad Blog Carnival, a monthly series that focuses on providing helpful tips and advice to ESL teachers around the globe. I'm hosting this month's carnival, and here's where you can read the rest of this month's posts. I'll be posting a new ESL-related article on my blog on the 5th of every month. Check back for more articles, and if you'd like to contribute to next month's Blog Carnival, please contact Dean at, and he will let you know how you can start participating!

Prompt: Who is best to teach? Adults? Teens? Kindergarten? Which group do you love teaching and why?

I had never taught a full class of elementary students before I taught in Korea, other than the few times I'd volunteered in my mom's second grade class. On our application form to teach in Korea, you could check a preference box for elementary, middle, or high school aged students.

I wasn't sure which group I would like teaching the best since I hadn't experienced all three, plus I like to be flexible for others, so I checked the "no preference" box.

After teaching at an elementary school for a year in Korea, I can happily say that I had a really great time with my young students, and I'm so grateful to have been placed in an elementary school. Maybe it would have been just as good in a middle or high school, but I think the experiences must be distinct.

Here are nine reasons I enjoyed teaching elementary:

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